Friday, January 23, 2004

It is still dark as I rise from a warm, comfortable position and venture into the day. I sit on the edge of the bed and s-t-r-e-t-c-h, bringing blood and life into muscles that have laid dormant for the past few hours. The cool air of the house isn't prickly enough to penetrate the warm fog of tired that I wear. Feet are jammed into my heavy, comfortable slippers before I stand, then walk to the hallway and down to the shower.

I gently introduce my eyes to light - first the dim glow of the range hood light (a mere 15 watts), then the distant brightness of the light above the stairs (a 60 watt bulb here) and down the stairs and round teh corner to the twin-60-watt-luminosity of the bathroom. I reach into the shower and turn on the water, adjusting the water pressure lever to a position that I know will produce a soothing-but-not-scalding temperature. I allow the hot water time to reach the shower stall before I venture in. A quick pee, then I'm ready, as I prepare to step into the coursing stream, eyes still squinting to block out the harshness of white lights against white tiles. The basement floor is cold and I surrender my slippers begrudgingly.

Soon, the water envelops me, fifty tiny streams hissing into my scalp and running in rivulets through my hair and down my neck, back and chest. It's right about here that I start to wake up and realize what is going on.

It's morning.

The Missus is gone off to work already, and I begin my breakfast of oatmeal, apples, brown sugar and a glass of milk. If I'm really hungry, I'll steal a bit of the kids' cereal for a second bowl. By now, I have woken Banana and McMonk up and they are having breakfast with me. We are talking about what we have planned for the day, what we are doing that night, what is coming up on the weekend. It's a great ritual that brings me closer to them and helps wake us all up before leaving the house.

I have shaved before breakfast in my comfortingly traditional routine. I make two passes over my face with the Braun, going with and against the grain of my whiskers, making sure to be smooth and thorough. I dab on a discrete amount of aftershave balm (Perry Ellis 360) - I know razor burn will follow if I don't. I try not to use too much as to be aromatically intrusive. Next, a few quick swipes with an industrial-strength deodorant, just in case, then open my razor and tap the whiskers into the sink (four taps, always) then close up the razor and wash the whiskers down the drain.

Onwards into my routine - I next find myself in front of a my closet. I pick something comfortable as my job demands, but always clean and (preferably) pressed. I like shirts that button up with button-down collars. Denim or at least cotton pants and always, always a belt. When I'm not feeling like a dress shirt, I'll sometimes choose a sweater, or sometimes a t-shirt - perhaps a vest overtop. My sleeves will be rolled up by the end of the day. I may roll them up as I put on the shirt. I like having my hands and forearms free of fabric, to the point of choosing shirts without sleeves, and not wearing watches or jewelry. I mentioned this to my mother one evening, and she noted that as long as she can remember, her father was the exact same way. How peculiar.

With lunches made and placed in backpacks, I leave the house with the girls and head up the alleyway to school. As soon as we get to the end of our property, Banana and McMonk see their friends and rush off to walk with them. I stop at the end of the driveway and watch them walk the 1/2 block to the chain-link fence surrounding school grounds, then they dissappear into the gate.

Then I turn to go back into the house and see the sky.

It's beautiful. A thin, high layer of cloud has lit up with purples, oranges, reds and other colours that there aren't names for yet. Even though the crisp January air isn't the least bit warm, the fire in the sky touches something deep within me and I send out a "thank you" to God, the Collective Good or whatever it is that brought me to this spot and made me aware of all of this. The sun is still lingering under the horizon.

So, I stood for a full minute and drank in the moment. And that's why I was late for work yesterday morning.

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